How to restore waterproofing on your jacket

Waterproofing on a jacket

After a particularly wet weekend of walking in the Peak District, my much loved DHB waterproof jacket was letting water in. The waterproofing was failing.

Fortunately, through London Cyclist readers, I’d heard about the Nikwax range of products.

You simply washed your waterproof gear in the Nikwax mixture and the waterproofing is restored.

It seemed a bold claim, so I asked everyone what their experience with the waterproofing products were:

  • Spinyone: Yep. Have a Paramo cycling jacket. Works pretty well if you clean first & follow instructions ;-)
  • Juter: Yep, it’s good stuff. Saw me through a lot of very wet Devonian winters.
  • TBag75: LOTS of times. Works a treat
  • Wondermare: used it on my horse’s turnout rug. She’s still warm and dry in spite of monsoon weather.
  • Katelockhart: it wasn’t a problem, I just washed old tracky bottoms after. It works really well – did about 5 items – all waterproof again!

The feedback seemed overwhelmingly positive, so all I had to do is choose the most suitable product for me. Nikwax have a fairly huge range:

Nikwax waterproofing range

I ended up with the Nikwax TX Direct Wash In Waterproofer as it had overwhelmingly positive reviews and a 300ml bottle was only £7. This is enough to wash 6 garments, if you hand wash.

Nikwax TX direct wash in waterproofer

Rather than add it to my washing machine, I decided to hand wash it, using gloves to protect my hands.

  1. I hand cleaned my waterproof jacket.
  2. I filled a bucket with 6 litres of hot water and sunk my jacket in to the water.
  3. I added a full cap (50ml) of Nikwax.
  4. I splashed it around to make sure everything mixed together and left it for 10 minutes.
  5. Then, I agitated the mixture again, removed the jacket from the bucket and rinsed it with cold water, until the water was running clearly.
  6. Left my waterproof jacket to dry

Washing a waterproof jacket in nikwax

Did it work?

Since then, I’ve ridden around London in heavy rain and in snow. Both times the jacket kept me perfectly dry. It seems the Nikwax did the job!

Which version should I get?

If you want to restore waterproofing on your jacket, then you can either get the wash-in version or the spray version. Both are very well reviewed and recommended.

A London Cyclist reader argued that the spray in version was less likely to impact the breathability of the jacket. I’m not really sure if this would make a difference and the manufacturer claims that the product also revives breathability.

With my jacket I’ve not had an issue with reduced breathability.

Further tips on using Nikwax to restore waterproofing

My readers have shared some further useful tips:

  • Make sure your washing machine is fully clear of any biological soap as this may damage the underlying fabric in your jacket – Gore-Tex particularly. Otherwise works great. Beware of any liquid run-off from the jacket, after the wash, onto the floor as this will be slippery!
  • Half my laundry cupboard is nikwax products! I redo my various coats and water proof trousers every now and then. Unfortunately I discovered this morning that my over trousers are due to be re-done . I run a 60 degree empty wash through the machine before using techwash or TX direct to make sure that the pipes are free from detergent.
  • As routine, washing machines should be run empty on a 90 degree wash (which is the equivalent to some ‘cleaning’ settings). I use Nikwax a lot and it does work, just follow the instructions and don’t try to wash to many items at once as I think the normal size bottle is only meant to do 3 or 4 jackets.

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11 Responses to How to restore waterproofing on your jacket

  1. Barton 16/01/2013 at 2:02 pm #

    Glad my experience is confirmed! I sometimes wonder if I am simply buying into the “hype” and assume things have improved.

    Have you tried the Nikwax Merino Wool wash? It made an amazing difference on the softness of my merino wool, which I had previously been washing with like colors in my Tide Free detergent.

    Granted, there was a not too pleasant (in my opinion) smell, but I am used to fragrance free products.

    • GrahamS 17/01/2013 at 2:03 pm #

      I’ve found that the Graingers products work equally well and don’t smell as bad as NikWax.

      http://www.grangers.co.uk

  2. Peter Cowan 16/01/2013 at 5:17 pm #

    If you’re trying to re-proof a garment that has been previously washed in detergent, even non-bio, it is as well to rinse it thoroughly first as it can inhibit the re-proofing viability.

    A rinse & spin in the washing machine is easiest, even if you don’t intend to re-proof using it. I re-proofed a 15 year old Parrot waterproof along with my DHB and it has restored it as a useful standby jacket.

  3. Andreas 17/01/2013 at 4:02 pm #

    Just a head up from Dave from Road.CC he told me that it’s a good idea to stick the garment in the tumbledrier afterwards as that seems to help the waterproofing. Worth a try.

  4. Darren 18/01/2013 at 10:08 am #

    Your instructions are spot on Andreas.

    I don’t like running any tech wash/proofing agents through my washing machine and just throw my Gore Tex in on a 30 wash with Surcare non-bio. Then I do a hand wash/soak in the TX direct and rinse. Works a treat every time – breathabilty and proofing good as new.

    Worth wearing the gloves though – TX Wash feels strange when it settles on the hands.

    Gore tex recommend tumble drying or ironing (under a tea-towel or equivalent) to reactivate the breathability. But never found this necessary when I do the above…

    • GrahamS 18/01/2013 at 10:55 am #

      Worth reading the factsheets on cleaning and reproofing from Gore and Grangers here:
      http://www.tgstore.eu/goretex-reproofing

      They say that over time the DWR molecules bind to each other. Heat (via tumble dryer or iron) breaks down the weak bonds between the DWR molecules and allows them to move back into their correct orientation.

      Incidentally TGStore will wash and reproof your Gore gear for you for the cost of postage.

  5. bfg67 18/01/2013 at 7:21 pm #

    Or just get a Rab (eVent material) jacket then you just have to wash it in normal liquid detergent then iron it to re waterproof!

  6. Colin G 18/01/2013 at 11:40 pm #

    I prefer the Grangers product too, although I didn’t use a tumble drier with the Nikwax product when I tried that.

  7. Peter 02/02/2013 at 1:15 am #

    My own experiences with Paramo jackets haven’t been so good. I walked for over a week in SE Alaska wearing a Paramo jacket I had owned for several years but which had just been reproofed by Paramo. I was dry the first day but wet and very cold the second, and the jacket was sodden. I bought the most popular jacket there, a heavy grade “North Face” Goretex jacket, and stayed dry and warm for the next 8 days. I love the softness of the Paramo jacket, but I don’t trust it to keep much water out.

  8. Chris 16/06/2013 at 10:03 am #

    Always go with the wash in version. The main disadvantage of the spray is that it only coats the outer layer of fabric and so wears off quicker, the wash in one soaks right into the fabric and is much more durable. I used to sell this stuff and thats the advice of Nikwax themselves when they did a PK session for us.

  9. mybikeismycar 03/07/2013 at 10:08 pm #

    Nikwax products have always worked great for me, and they make extra effort not to use nasty PFC chemicals. I think other similar products use these perfluorinated chemicals which can make you infertile and damage your immune system etc.

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